I have a question: which of the two following scenarios is more likely to get you to open your wallet?
1) A lone cyclist pedalling the length of Africa – a distance of 11,200km – in under 80 days to break a Guinness World Record and raise money to provide drinking water and sanitation for 1,500 people at a school and hospital in Zambia.
2) A pair of riders on bikes made of bamboo cycling 30,000km from the tip to the toe of the Americas to raise money for a variety of water projects in Guatemala benefiting 1,700 people.
Photo above: Michiel Roodenburg of Cycle for Water, near the border between Guatemala and El Salvador. February 2011. Photo by (we presume) Joost Notenboom.
Tough choice? If you’re philanthropically inclined, it could be. Both are incredible feats of endurance undertaken by inspired and inspiring individuals with huge amounts of commitment to their causes. And there are lots of other similarities between the two. Both campaigns are Dutch and both are raising money to fund aid projects which are viewable on the Akvo platform, meaning supporters and curious onlookers can see where the money’s going and monitor progress in the field. Both have great websites, regularly updated with evocative and captivating images and blogs, featuring live progress maps and linking to lively and interactive twitter feeds and facebook pages.
OK, there are a few differences too. One campaign, Cycle for Water, seems to be doing a little better in the social media stakes, with nearly 900 facebook likes and 400 twitter followers at the time of writing, compared to 134 and 101 respectively for its Doppelganger 11000km. It’s also doing incredibly well in terms of traditional media coverage, with really substantial items on CNN as well as coverage in US Today and National Geographic among lots of others. And if you want to split hairs, you could argue that its website is a little more enticing with its rolling menu of videos, its stunning photography updated daily and its sense of humour (although I should confess at this point I don’t speak Dutch, so I don’t know how funny 11000km.nl is). So why has it raised only a quarter as much money from individual donors and generated only an average of four project page views per day compared to 11000km’s project which is averaging around 200 per day?
Robert Knol’s bike. Photo by Robert (obviously).
I don’t know the answer to this. I’m hoping you do! Each of these campaign teams wants to maximise the impact of the incredible journeys they’ve undertaken and both have a long way to go. If you have any comments or suggestions please do post them below. If you want more information about the campaigns, post a question and I’ll see if I can answer it. I hope Michiel, Joost and Robert will also join in the discussion, during rest breaks. I think this is a really interesting conundrum and could be one more step to help us all master the fine art of campaigning for development projects online.
Jo Pratt works in the Akvo communications team in London.
Updated 3rd March 2011. Clarified that fundraising figures relate to individual donations only.